Angela Merkel rejects Turkish criticism of new visa law
13 July 2007, Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday rejected criticism from ethnic Turkish groups of a new law that imposes a language test on young brides entering Germany to live.
13 July 2007
Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday rejected criticism from ethnic Turkish groups of a new law that imposes a language test on young brides entering Germany to live.
Merkel, who was unveiling a "national integration plan" to improve work and education opportunities for 15 million people of non-German ethnicity in her country, said the law had implemented an EU guideline and included a wide range of exemptions.
She rebuked four mainstream Turkish groups which boycotted a "summit" Thursday at her office and demanded the law be amended.
Merkel said her government did not accept ultimatums. She denied the legislation treated Muslims differently from anyone else.
"They have a responsibility not to fire up emotions," she said of her critics.
Under the new law, husbands in Germany can only obtain permanent residency for their new brides from abroad if the women are aged 18 or over and can speak between 200 and 300 words of German.
Turkish groups have complained that many other nationalities benefit from exemptions. Four groups skipped the two-hour summit.
"My hand remains extended to them," Merkel said. "We have a lot to do. We invite everyone to involve themselves once again."
The chancellor described the integration plan as "a milestone." It contains 400 promises from the federal government, the states and community groups for improvements in the lot of migrants, ranging from aid for ethnic sports clubs to more German-language classes.
Maria Boehmer, federal migration commissioner, said such classes had been a big success so far, with two thirds of the students being women.
The plan, which has gained in urgency amid fears that the Islamic minority in Germany may become radicalized, includes efforts to increase the number of migrants in public services such as the police. But no quotas were set.
Brigitte Zypries, Germany's justice minister, said a survey of showed there were far too few minority trainees in public services.
"A survey in 2005 of trainees in the public services found only 2.1 per cent were foreign young people compared with 24 per cent in job training overall," she said. The public services "clearly" told the summit they would try to improve this.
Business leaders also attended the summit, the second of its type, and promised to press companies to train and employ larger numbers of immigrant youths. Merkel said third summit would be held in autumn 2008 to assess progress.
Germany has a population of nearly 82 million, of whom 7.3 million are not German citizens, according to official statistics.
But the federal government estimates that ethnic minorities total 15 million people, including those who have obtained German citizenship by naturalization, children of mixed marriages and eastern Europeans with ancient German forefathers.
The majority of summit participants were German officials, but envoys from the Turkish, Greek, Arab and other communities attended.
The groups that boycotted the summit were the Turkish Community, which is a national secular association, the Ditib network of Turkish mosques, the Turkish Parents' Association and the Council of Germans of Turkish Extraction.
Subject: German news